Mission & History


We are the music of the future. We set high standards for artistry and education. We learn and perform in harmony. We are Golden State Youth Orchestra.

Two core principles underlie the GSYO mission:

  • Music Education, to nurture, train and develop young musicians from culturally diverse backgrounds and encourage a lasting appreciation of music.
  • Musical Excellence, to provide high-quality performance opportunities for young people and outstanding musical events for the wider community.


William Galbraith began his career as a violinist and received his degree in music from San Jose State College where he served as concertmaster from 1960-1966. At the age of 21, Galbraith founded El Camino Youth Symphony.

Golden State Youth Orchestra (GSYO) previously El Camino Youth Symphony (ECYS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1963 by William Galbraith, a young maestro who envisioned an orchestra that would give youth musicians the opportunity to perform challenging standard professional repertoire.

In 1965, Robert Sayre, then principal cellist with the San Francisco Symphony, became one of the first professional musicians to perform with GSYO. Since then, GSYO has continued to invite artists of international stature to perform as guest soloists with our highest level ensemble Senior Symphony. To learn more about all of the guest artists we have had please visit below.

In 2022, we welcomed our eleventh music director, Dr. Yun Song Tay, who stepped into the position of Music Director and Conductor of Senior Symphony and Camilla Kolchinsky Orchestra. For a complete list of our previous Music Directors please visit below.

As of April 7, 2018, El Camino Youth Symphony has officially become Golden State Youth Orchestra. The former name was thought to be confusing especially when the Senior Symphony toured internationally. Often people believed we were from Spain or Latin America rather than representing the USA and the magnificent state of California. The new Golden State Youth Orchestra name clearly states the purpose of the organization, and the Golden State is synonymous with California. The goal of the rebrand was to more accurately represent our home state and the strength and depth of the value we bring to our students.

Concerts tours, retreats, participation in music festivals, and exchanges with other youth orchestras are a vital part of the GSYO experience.

Previous Music Directors

2019 - 2022: John Eells

2014 - 2019: Dr. Jindong Cai

1994 - 2014: Dr. Camila Kolchinsky

1991 - 1993: Melissa McBride

1989 - 1990: Charles Barber

1987 - 1988: Leroy Kromm

1975 - 1986: Dr. Arthur Barnes

1970 - 1974: Nelson Tandoc

1969: Denis de Couteau

1963 - 1968: William Galbraith

Previous Guest Artists

2023: Espen Lilleslåtten, Violin - Concertmaster of the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra - guest concertmaster at Symphony and Camilla Kolchinsky Orchestra / Evin Blomberg, Violin - Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; masterclass / David Kim, Violin - Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra - Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto / Catherine Cook, San Francisco Opera - Copland Old American Songs

2022: Amos Yang, Cello - Assistant Principal Cello of the San Francisco Symphony; masterclass / David Burkhart, Trumpet; brass masterclass / Navy Band Southwest - woodwind and brass masterclass

2021: Mark Inouye, Trumpet - Principal Trumpet of the San Francisco Symphony; virtual masterclass / Cathy Payne, Flute - Piccolo and flute at the San Francisco Symphony; virtual masterclass / Jerome Simas - Bass Clarinet at the San Francisco Symphony; virtual masterclass / Yun Jie Liu - Viola - Associate Principal Viola of the San Francisco Symphony; masterclass

2020: David Kim, Violin - Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra; virtual masterclass / Amos Yang, Cello - Assistant Principal Cello of the San Francisco Symphony; virtual masterclass

2019: Stephen Prutsman, Pianist - Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto / Emil Miland, Cellist - Bloch Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hébraïque / Vladislav Kern, Pianist - Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto & Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini 

2018: Maestro Michael Morgan, Music Director - Oakland Symphony - Copland Lincoln Portrait (narrator) / Taylor Eigsti, Pianist - Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue / Van Anh Vo, composer - Orginal work Lulluaby for a Country

2017: David Kim, Concertmaster - Philadelphia Orchestra - Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

2016: Jon Nakamatsu - Grieg Piano Concerto

2015: Sandra Shen - De Falla Noches en los Jardines Espana / Chen Zhao - Sarasate Navarra for Two Violins

2014: Ilya Yakushev - Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1

2013: Philipe Quint - Bruch Violin Concerto / Naomi Kudo & Brandon Ridenour - Shostakovich Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra

2012: Zuill Bailey - Dvorak Cello Concerto

2011: David Kim, Concertmaster - Philadelphia Orchestra - Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto

2010: Claire Huangci - Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2

2009: Michelle Kim, Assistant Concertmaster - New York Philharmonic / Sumire Kudo, Cellist - Brahms Double Concerto

2008: Martin Chalifour, Principal Concertmaster - Los Angeles Philharmonic - Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto

2006: David Kim, Concertmaster - Philadelphia Orchestra, Bruch Scottish Fantasy / Robert Chen, Concertmaster - Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Brahms Violin Concerto

2005: Rueibin Chen - Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1

2004: Jon Nakamatsu - Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1

2003: Alexander Barantshik - Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1

2002: Jon Nakamatsu - Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2 / Dr. Michail Gelfandbein - Bruch Koi Nidrei

2001: Vladamir Viardo - Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

2000: Bin Huang and Inna Nassidze - Brahms Double Concerto

1996: Philippe Quint - Paganini Violin Concerto

Notable Individuals

1994 - 2016: Cathy Spieth - Former Executive Director

1994 - 2015: Camilla Kolchinsky - Conductor Emeritus

Michail Gelfandbein - Former Conductor of Chamber Players and Camerata Orchestra

Our People:

Learn about ALL the talented people who make GSYO happen.

Featured Conductors

Debra Gardner

Assistant Conductor and Director of Winds

Richard Roper

Dr. Richard Roper

Director of the El Camino Wind Orchestra and the Honors Wind Ensemble

Dr. Yun Song Tay

Music Director, Conductor of Symphony Orchestra & Camilla Kolchinsky Orchestra

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